Local judge goes the extra mile to help turn lives around

Local judge goes the extra mile to help turn lives around

There aren't a lot of success stories that come out of the Justice Center. So when someone makes a mistake, learns from it and moves on, it's something to take note of.

As 19 Action News found, that's exactly what a judge just did.

Judge Brendan Sheehan is giving people a second chance, along with a challenge to clean up.

Deborah Franklin, who was arrested for burglary a year ago, took the judge's challenge to heart.

"I'm doing good," Franklin said. "I'm still in my program. I go because I want to go."

The judge felt compelled to help because of a startling stat. About 80% of the time, people on probation are found in violation for a drug relapse, a new crime or rule violation.  More often than not they are handcuffed, taken into a holding cell for a ride back to prison rather than going home.

Once people on probation successfully complete the judge's requirements, the judge takes notice.

"My thought was to bring them in here for sort of a graduation ceremony," Judge Sheehan said. "An opportunity for them to see, hey you've accomplished something. They don't expect that when they go to court. They expect to be sent to prison or yelled at."

Each graduation ends the same way.

"I think everyone here should give her a round of applause," Judge Sheehan said to his courtroom of graduates.

With a pat on the back or handshake, he hopes he's sending a productive citizen back out into society.

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